I am sure that when the clock struck midnight on the 31st December, collectively, we all let out a sigh of relief that 2020 was over. And although it can be difficult to rustle up the usual hope and anticipation felt at the start of a new year, there are glimmers of light illuminating the year ahead.
Back in December, Grantham was selected as a location for one of the country’s vaccination centres. Already many of our most vulnerable residents have received their vaccination, with many more set to be inoculated over the coming weeks and months. With mass vaccinations being a key weapon in our fight against the virus, to see the amazing progress already being made is something that makes me feel immensely proud and hopeful. As the Government ramps up its efforts to roll-out more vaccinations more quickly, I know that this year, South Kesteven will continue to play its part in the nation-wide effort to overcome this pandemic.
Infection rates remain stubbornly high and although we’re not at the end of curtailing coronavirus – I do believe that we are at the beginning of the end. For now, a necessary part of that means living under lockdown for a little longer. Spending more time at home in my local area of Stamford, I can’t help but feel grateful for living in such a beautiful part of the country. Many of us have a renewed appreciation for the familiar surroundings that, when the pace of life is much faster, can be easy to take for granted. In South Kesteven, we are blessed in having the best of both worlds – beautiful countryside, idyllic market towns, and vibrant local economies. I believe that once we return to our normal routines and pastimes, we will all carve out more time to explore the amazing places and spaces that our district has to offer.
One of the things that I am most looking forward to this year is the continued revitalisation of our High Streets and town centres. In December, we learned that InvestSK (the Council’s economic growth and regeneration company) had been successful in its bid to the Government’s Future High Street fund - securing £5.56 million to transform Grantham town centre. The bid was a real team effort, put together following consultation with local businesses, strategic stakeholders, and residents.
This vital funding will transform the access gateway into the town, convert empty retail units into new homes and workplaces, and fund other vital infrastructure and public realm enhancements.
Protecting and regenerating the district’s most cherished buildings is another key focus, with a further project this year being the conversion of Stamford's historic St John Ambulance building. The building, which has been empty for ten years, is undergoing a £230,000 revamp to provide two storeys of open-plan office space. This will not only support more jobs back into Stamford but will also help increase footfall for our high street.
Another milestone for 2021, is our regeneration of the former Cummins Engineering site off Barnack Road in Stamford, in partnership with Burghley Land Ltd. The development of St Martin’s Park in Stamford will transform the area and deliver much-needed new homes, commercial opportunities and a retirement village.
Although, currently, our worlds have become a lot smaller, the months ahead certainly look brighter. Winter is almost behind us and we are marching towards spring. In fact, when you look closely, the green shoots can already be seen.